This is Michel. He is one of the dominant male leopards found on our camera traps. He is my favourite leopard. We first recorded him in July 2011 and since then we have regularly photographed across a massive area.
We are about to find out exactly how big his home range is… Last night we caught Michel in one of our leopard traps. Two of our Research Assistants, Anna and Laura, found him caught during their 9 pm trap checking rounds. They alerted the leopard processing team who arrived on the scene shortly after.
The vet darted the leopard and once he was immobilised he was treated for a minor foot wound. We then identified him as Michel using his coat pattern. Michel was one of the resident leopards we were aiming to collar so we were extremely pleased. A microchip and a GPS collar were affixed. Then we took morphological data and genetic samples. We weighed him, measured him and inspected his teeth, face, and head to help us to age him accurately. Blood and hair samples were taken. I was in charge of identifying the animal and recording the data. Sam was responsible for putting the collar on and taking photographs.
Michel was moved into a recovery crate to safely sleep off the drugs. In the morning he was awake, alert and well. He was released from the crate and was off like a shot into the bush.
Until the collar drops off in a year and a half we will be receiving regular information about Michel’s movements, behaviour, activity patterns and proximity to baboon troops once this part of the research is set up.
We are hoping to catch an additional male and three female leopards before July 31th. We will keep you posted as and when we finally get to meet the leopards we feel we know so well already from the camera traps.